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ARLINGTON, Va. — The “hot guns” from Giessen, Germany, are giving insurgents the swiftest artillery payback in Iraq, if not the entire Army, according to Col. Sean MacFarland, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division in Ramadi.

“Those guys have probably fired more high-explosive projectiles against the enemy than any artillery battery in the Army,” MacFarland told Stars and Stripes in a Friday telephone call from his Camp Ramadi headquarters. “And they’re probably the fastest at it of anybody in the Army, too.”

Once Army radars detect incoming rockets or mortar fire, MacFarland said, the unit often has “artillery landing on the enemy mortar team within 30 seconds of them firing their last round.”

Without getting into specifics that might be useful for the enemy, MacFarland said, the 2-3 Field Artillery is routinely responding to threats with their counter-battery fire “in less than one-third of the time you’ll generally find elsewhere in training situations.”

“It’s amazing to me,” MacFarland said. “Absolutely amazing.”

The artillery wasn’t the only Germany unit that came in for their commander’s praise.

MacFarland said the 54th Engineers from Bamberg, “the guys who are out on the roads every night doing the route clearance mission,” are “incredibly brave soldiers, and incredibly good at what they do.”

He also said the 501st support battalion, from Friedberg, “are on the roads constantly in harm’s way, and they do a terrific job.”

The 501st was designed to support a standard armor brigade of about 3,500 hundred soldiers, MacFarland said, and “we’re much bigger than that,” although he declined to give the precise number of U.S. military forces assigned to Ramadi.

In addition to American troops, the 501st often provides logistics support to Iraqi security forces, MacFarland said.

Despite the workload, “Nobody’s missed a meal, or run out of gas, or run out of bullets,” he said. “These guys are making it happen.”

But the reality, MacFarland said, is that “everybody is going above and beyond the call of duty out here.”

“It’s really a phenomenal thing for me to see,” he said. “They don’t get enough sleep a lot of times, they’re in constant danger … [and] it’s pretty dang hot down here.”

Nevertheless, “the guys are going about their jobs with a great attitude and great focus,” MacFarland said.

But without the families back home, he said, “I don’t think we could be what we’re doing.”

“We’re all very proud of what our families have been doing back in Germany while we’re deployed,” MacFarland said.

“They go to as many memorial services as we do, and I know that they’re well-attended, and they hit hard back there,” he said. “But the families are keeping a stiff upper lip. They’re taking care of each other and themselves.”

“They have been a great asset to the soldiers out here.”

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